Joseph Oklahombi was born May 1, 1895 at Bokchito, Indian Territory. He was killed by a truck while walking alongside a road on April 13, 1960 at the age of 64. His final resting place is Yashau Cemetery in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. He was full-blood Choctaw Indian.
Oklahombi enlisted into the U.S. Army on May 25, 1918 and served with honor until June 19, 1919 earning the rank of Private First Class. While training at Camp Bowie, Texas he was assigned to D Company, 141st Infantry, 36th Division. The 141st Infantry arrived in Brest, France on/about August 7, 1918.
PFC Oklahombi was one of 24 enlisted soldiers, and one officer awarded the Silver Star to be worn on the World War I Victory Medal and the French Croix de Guerre, for action from October 8-12, 1918 near St. Etienne, France. He was awarded the Silver Star (posthumously) by the Secretary of the U.S. Army on August 14, 1992 for Gallantry in Action during World War I. It is documented during this action that, “…these soldiers jumped off under fire of more than 25 machine guns, intense artillery fire, toxic gas, barbed wire and numerous snipers to rush within 200 yards of the enemy. They captured and turned on them the enemy’s own guns and held out for four days although under a constant barrage of high explosives and gas shells. Their action resulted in the capture of 171 enemy soldiers.”
PFC Oklahombi was also one of 19 World War I Choctaw soldiers awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award of the United States, for his service as a Code Talker during World War I. The Code Talker Recognition Act of 2008 was signed into law by President George W. Bush, on October 15, 2008 and presented posthumously on November 20, 2013 in Washington D.C. The Choctaw Code Talkers pioneered the use of Native American languages which successfully baffled the enemy. Their code was never broken. Oklahombi and his fellow Code Talkers were inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame on November 11, 2012.
After the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, the 141st performed occupation duty and training around the Tonnerre and later in the area of Le Malls, France. The 141st arrived back in New York on/about June 4, 1919 and was disbanded shortly thereafter at Camp Bowie.
At the time of his death, Oklahombi was survived by his wife of 45 years, Agnes (1903-83) and a son, (1918-93).
In addition to Oklahombi being inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame as one of the famed Choctaw Code Talkers, he has now been inducted as an individual Choctaw hero.
The Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, sponsor of the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame (OKMHF), was founded in 1999 by Major General Douglas O. Dollar, U.S. Army (Retired). The OKMHF is an all-volunteer non-profit organization having the purpose of honoring those Oklahomans, living, and deceased, who serve or have served in the U.S. military with records demonstrating extraordinary acts of courage, heroism, gallantry and/or sacrifice in service to our nation. The induction banquet is held annually in celebration of Veterans Day.
The OKMHF Board is comprised of dedicated volunteers who work year-round to prepare for the annual induction banquet. In addition to the valor awards, in 2021, OKMHF has inducted three recipients of the Major General Douglas O. Dollar Distinguished Public Service Award.
Honoring PFC Joseph Oklahombi
Company D, 141st Infantry, 36th Division